As most people reading this probably know, I have 2 big passions in life – cooking and eating vegan food, and watching Everton Football Club. These 2 passions don’t cross very often except when I need to eat before going to a match so I thought I’d do a post about what happens when my passions collide.
Travelling around the country (and around Europe in good years) watching football can mean trying out a previously undiscovered vegan gem, or it can mean having to pack a sandwich and eating it in the ground. Different kick off times, days of the week, modes of transport to the match and location of parking sometimes mean that I can’t eat somewhere where there’s a far better option. Sometimes I forego a better food option in favour of meeting friends somewhere else. But I do my best, and I thought it might be useful to SOMEONE, someday, to do a review of what I’ve eaten at different grounds this season and previously. Needless to say, I only thought about this today so I’ve just got a couple of photos which I found on my phone, but if anyone at all reads this and would like me to do it again next season let me know and I’ll try harder to take some next season.
First game of the season was at home so I’ll cover options for both Everton and Liverpool here. If you wait until you get near to the grounds there’s not much except Wetherspoons and chip shops, but there is a café close to Goodison (near Crofts Social Club) which advertises vegan food in the window – I tried it once and they’d run out of some things but I got a very passable burger and chips there (Fry’s I think). In the city centre my preferred option is Mello Mello – it’s a fully licensed vegetarian bar with a great vegan menu and it always has at least one vegan cake. There are other options too, Scouseveg has you covered. (This is the butternut squash gnocchi from Mello Mello and the burgers are great there too)
Next up, away at Aston Villa. For a city the size of Birmingham the vegan options are diabolical. Since the closure of the Warehouse Café there’s not even a vegetarian place in the city centre anymore. I usually go to Café Soya and am sure to ask for the vegetarian menu then check which dishes have eggs. It’s cheap and cheerful and tends to be quite mock meat heavy. The chilli oil is a must and is evil hot. This is some kind of chicken fried rice from last season.
West Brom away is a corker. We always go to Milan’s sweet centre – it’s an Indian vegetarian sweet centre with just a couple of tables but they do a huge range of samosas, pakora and other deep fried delights for just pennies. Our pre match pub of choice is The Vine which is an incredible tardis and has an Indian menu – I’ve never eaten there but I’d be astonished if there wasn’t something available.
I’ve had 2 great days out at Swansea but due to traffic and stupid kick off times I’ve only ever managed to grab something quick in the very popular chippy opposite the ground.
Not a premiership ground but next we had a midweek away cup game at Leeds. Again timings meant I went to a chippy near the ground but I’ve eaten good vegan food in Leeds city centre and can give details if anyone wants them.
Not having a very inspiring run of away games, our next trip was to Wigan, where again I hit a local (and not very good) chippy. Be glad to see the back of them.
Fortunately then our next trip was to QPR which is an area that’s great for food. The previous season I went to Red Sea Ethiopian restaurant which has vegan options listed on the menu, and this season I ate very good Thai food in a pub near the ground. There’s also a shop opposite the Ethiopian restaurant that sells fresh injera. For football reasons I’m happy to see them relegated but for food reasons not so much.
Fulham away should be pretty easy but this season we somehow ended up in the pub too long and I had to get some chips. However, it’s not very far from 222 which is entirely vegan and does a hot and cold eat as much as you want buffet at lunchtimes – it’s on the healthy side of vegan eating but is very tasty.
Next up was Reading away. When they were last in the premiership I was spoilt for choice with a good veggie café and an excellent veggie Indian restaurant but they’d both gone so I visited Global Café which runs an Ethiopian restaurant with vegan options labelled and has vegan cake too. The portions weren’t massive but I really enjoyed it. A dodgy pic below of the Vegan Trio.
Man City away came next. I could write a very long blog post about the increasing number of vegan options in Manchester, and will do one day, but for this trip I went to Bistro 1847, a veggie restaurant which considers itself quite high class. It was my second visit and both times it was only OK and I won’t be rushing back. Manchester has far better.
Stoke away next. The place I live, and I was feeling pretty unwell this season, so I ate at home and just went to the match, didn’t even call at the pub. There’s nothing at all near to the ground and even the pubs don’t allow away fans. If you’ve got plenty of time The Big Strawberry is an excellent all vegan café but you need to get a bus from the station. I’d say your best bet is a small BYOB South Indian restaurant not too far from the station called Spice and Dosa. It says it’s a takeaway but it’s a restaurant.
West Ham away, possibly my favourite food related away of the season. Set right in the middle of a large Indian/Sri Lankan area, there are loads of Pure Vegetarian restaurants not too far away. My preferred option is Saravana Bhavan, a huge place that’s dirt cheap and full of Indian people, but there are plenty of places in the area to choose from.
We played away at Newcastle in the evening, between Christmas and New Year, so not everything was open, but I went to a quirky little place and had a really nice meal. It’s not vegetarian but has vegetarian and vegan options listed – I had a lovely gado gado for starters.
More respite from the premiership with a trip to Cheltenham in the cup and though there may be options in the centre, and there’s a big Wholefoods there now, neither the train station nor the ground seemed to be anywhere near it, so it was chips again.
Southampton away was on a very snowy Monday night so despite best intentions to eat at the all vegetarian Indian restaurant there, we ended up at a very student Tex Mex place which promised a vegan menu which was a normal menu with everything non vegan crossed out with marker pen! Not bad but next season I’ll be hoping to get to the Indian.
Bolton away is another one where the ground isn’t close to anything. There might be options in the centre of Bolton (I doubt it) but we drove to the ground so I took some sandwiches.
For Manchester United away see Man City above – but the advantage Old Trafford has is its proximity to Unicorn all vegan shop. On this trip I did battle with all the people celebrating Chinese New Year to get a really good bowl of Pho in the city centre beforehand.
Another non premiership interlude with a trip to Oldham for an annoying 6pm kick off. Ate before I went.
Norwich is a really long way away, especially in the snow, but I was rewarded with a really good meal at an all vegetarian Indian restaurant. There seem to be quite a few good places to eat in Norwich, so despite the distance I’m glad they stayed up! The intriguing fenugreek and banana bhajis starter below.
Spurs away offers much promise in the nearby Stoke Newington, including the original branch of the award winning Rasa but I’ve never made it there on a matchday. The ground is near to a large Turkish community and I tend to go for pide/falafel/hummus options close by, unless I’m on the train in which case I eat in central London.
Arsenal away is close to a very good Ethiopian restaurant where I’ve been for the last few seasons, and where I also bought the shiro and injera mentioned in this post. The food is very good and the chilli sauce they have there is amazing. A very shadowy photo of the amazing veggie combo below.
I’m not sure if there’s anywhere specifically vegetarian to eat in Sunderland but we usually meet up with Sunderland supporting friends in a pub near the ground. The pub always has great chips but this season they had a vegetable curry with them which was similar in style to Chinese chippy curry sauce and was wonderful. It was also the first warm day of the year so we ate outside in the beer garden, fabulous.
Next up was Liverpool away where I’m far too nervous to eat, but see recommendations for Everton at the beginning of the list.
The final away game of the year was at Chelsea, which is closer to 222 than Fulham (see above) so I nipped in here for the buffet and met friends in the pub afterwards. I quite possibly ate 15 pieces of the carrot quiche.
Next season says goodbye to Wigan, QPR and Reading with mixed results for food, but sees Cardiff, Crystal Palace and Hull joining the Premiership. I’ve never been to Cardiff at all before but am looking forward to trying this vegetarian Indian restaurant. Crystal Palace is a complete pain to get to, and recommendations are welcome. I went to Hull before when they were in the Premiership and it’s almost certainly a chippy job unless anyone can tell me otherwise – but they do have an amazing condiment called Chip Spice that I’ve never seen anywhere else.
Well, this turned out to be the longest blog post I’ve ever written and congratulations if you’ve stayed with it right until the end. If you have any vegan recommendations for food near to football grounds please let me know!